Modernizing Our Elections

Ballot Access

In a growing city with more than 500,000 registered voters, some of Denver's policies around committee and candidate ballot access have remained unchanged for decades. To ensure fair elections, these policies are in dire need of an update. Clerk and Recorder Paul D. López and Councilwoman Kendra Black, Chair of the Finance & Governance Committee, have convened a Ballot Access Modernization Committee to comprehensively examine how questions and candidates are placed on the ballot, with the goal of making formal recommendations to bring policy current. 

The committee will work on a variety of issues, including:

  • Deadlines for submission and internal review of petitions
  • Deadlines for Council-referred measures
  • Ballot issue title setting
  • City Council review and comment process
  • Improving Denver’s ballot issue guide
  • Fiscal analyses conducted for referred and initiated questions
  • Signature thresholds for petitions, including candidate petitions

The Ballot Access Modernization Committee will hold a series of virtual meetings available for public view. This page will be updated to reflect upcoming meetings and to provide access to past recorded meetings. Questions or comments? Email BAMC@denvergov.org. 

Join our next meeting via Zoom on Thursday, May 19, 2022, 2:30-4:30 PM MDT

Committee Members

David Broadwell, Esq. | Former Assistant City Attorney
Michael Cummings, Ph.D.  | Professor Emeritus of Political Science at University of Colorado Denver
Bianka Emerson, Esq. | Vice President Colorado Black Women for Political Action
Hon. Kevin Flynn | Denver City Council District 2
Karen Goldman | Former Deputy City Clerk City of Aurora
Mark Grueskin, Esq. | Shareholder Recht Kornfeld PC
Hon. Stephanie O’Malley | Associate Vice Chancellor for Government and Community Relations Denver University, former Denver Clerk and Recorder
Gena Ozols | State Director, Colorado Labor Electoral Action Project
Hon. Amanda Sawyer | Denver City Council District 5
Skye Stuart | Office of Mayor Michael B. Hancock
Ean Thomas Tafoya | Community Activist
Martha Tierney, Esq. | Tierney Lawrence LLC

Meetings and Agendas

Ballot Access Modernization Committee meetings take place on the third Thursday of each month through May 2022. Links to recorded meetings and agendas will be updated periodically. 

 


Charter Review Committee

In November 2021, voters approved a much-needed change to the City Charter that moved municipal elections from May to April, solving conflicting timelines between statutory deadlines and run-off elections. This change was the result of Clerk López’s initiative to modernize elections to the benefit of both voters and staff through the Charter Review Committee, convened in the fall of 2020.

Over a span of six months, the committee considered potential voting method alternatives, including plurality, approval, and ranked-choice voting. The committee also considered moving municipal elections to November. After extensive review and feedback, Clerk López chose to recommend either ranked-choice voting or increasing the time between the election and run-off. Upon that recommendation, City Council then referred a question to the November 2021 Coordinated Election ballot that asked voters to move municipal elections up by a month. Nearly 76 percent of Denver voters were in favor of measure 2H, cementing the change to the city’s charter.

Impact

The Denver City Charter currently requires that all elected officials in Denver, except for at-large councilmembers, receive a majority of the votes cast in an election. Therefore, a run-off election is often necessary to secure this majority. Prior to November 2021, the charter also required that the runoff election be conducted about one month after the municipal election.

At the same time, the charter requires the Office of the Clerk and Recorder to conduct elections according to state election law, which requires the office to automatically mail ballots to voters three weeks before Election Day. For military and overseas voters, state law requires ballots to be mailed 45 days before Election Day. As a result, Denver had conflicting timelines in its charter, as there was not enough time between municipal elections and their run-offs.

As a result of the work of Clerk López’s office and the Charter Review Committee, the city increased the time between the municipal and run-off elections, providing for a minimum of 30 additional days between the elections. This option solved the timeline conflict experienced by elections administrators. Moving municipal elections from May to April eliminates the time crunch and the need to implement a modified voting method like approval or ranked-choice voting. Elections will be administered as they are now, but on a different timeline.

Past Members

The committee was comprised of seven members who were appointed by Council, the Mayor’s Office, and Clerk and Recorder Paul López. These members worked directly with Clerk López, his office, and other appointed members of the community, including subject matter experts and elected officials.

Michael Cummings. Ph.D. | Professor Emeritus of Political Science, University of Colorado Denver – Clerk and Recorder appointee
Hon. Kevin Flynn | Denver City Council, District 2 – Council appointee
Hon. Stacie Gilmore | Denver City Council President, District 11 – Council appointee
Mark Grueskin, Esq. | Shareholder, Recht Kornfeld PC – Clerk and Recorder appointee
Hon. Stephanie O’Malley | Associate Vice Chancellor for Government and Community Relations, University of Denver – Clerk and Recorder appointee
Gena Ozols | Field Director, Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights – Clerk and Recorder appointee and community applicant
Alan Salazar, Esq. | Chief of Staff, Mayor Michael Hancock – Mayoral appointee